Mudras. They’re slightly mythical things. Not many of us in the modern world of yoga have a thorough understanding of what they truly are.
Mudras are hand gestures. The word mudra translates to ‘seal.’ Mudras are seals. They’re energetic ones, and they’re believed to be useful for a number of health issues.
In this article, we’re going to explore the best mudras for digestion. Having a proper flowing digestive system was essential for the ancient yogis, as yoga and Ayurvedic medicine believe the health of the entire system is intricately linked to the health of the digestive tract.
Here are the best mudras to help balance and better your digestive health.
1. Pushan Mudra
Pushan mudra is the mother of all mudras having to do with digestion and elimination. It’s the only mudra on this list whereby each hand is in a different position. The right hand of pushan mudra rests in a position of receptivity, and the left hand takes the shape of a mudra that symbolizes elimination.
This particular hand gesture is believed to be linked to the organs of elimination. Think liver, gallbladder, and stomach. The ancient yogis believed that when placing the hands in pushan mudra, various energies were ignited. They are the energies of:
- Assimilation and digestion
In yoga, these energies are referred to as:
- Prana vayu (receptivity energy)
- Samana vayu (digestion and assimilation energies)
- Apana vayu (the elimination energy)
If you’re experiencing gas after eating a meal, pushan mudra might be useful, as it’s thought to alleviate flatulence and even nausea.
Pushan is a Vedic deity who helps us through life transitions. As such, when we place our hands in pushan mudra, we’re supporting the difficulties that come with the winds of change, and making transitions in our lives just a little bit easier.
Classically speaking, mudras are typically performed for a full 45-minutes a day, which sounds pretty hardcore if you ask me. My suggestion here is to start gradually, with say, five minutes or so, and then work your way up.
Like your asana or pranayama practice, you’ll want to choose a time frame that works for you, and won’t leave you intimidated, overwhelmed, or dreading the practice.
To do pushan mudra:
- Sit comfortably in a cross-legged position, like lotus pose (padmasana) or easy pose (sukhasana).
- Place both hands gently on the thighs, with the palms facing upwards. Allow the arms and shoulders to relax.
- Grow the spine tall. Take a deep breath.
- With your right hand, outstretch your pinky and ring fingers, while pressing the tips of the thumb, forefinger, and middle fingers together.
- With your left hand, outstretch the pointer and pinky fingers, while bringing the tips of the thumb, middle, and ring fingers together.
The right hand position is believed to help with issues involving the upper gastrointestinal tract. Think burping, belching, and acid reflux. If you want to target the lower gastrointestinal tract, you can switch things up with the right hand by outstretching the pointer and middle fingers, and pressing the tips of the ring, pinky, and thumb together.
The left hand position is said to target all issues of the gastrointestinal tract.
2. Prana Mudra
Prana mudra is believed to cool the excessive fires of pitta, one of the three fundamental energies in every human being according to Ayurveda. If our digestive fires are on overdrive, imbalances can occur. Prana mudra helps balance this aggravation, while also supporting liver health.
Here’s how you do prana mudra:
- Find your meditative seat and take a few deep breaths to settle in.
- Press the tips of the ring finger, little finger and thumb together, while outstretching the middle and pointer fingers. This is the shape both your left and right hands will take.
- Place the hands on your knees (if sitting) or by your sides if standing or lying down.
- Breathe here with your hands in prana mudra for five to 10 minutes.
3. Apana mudra
This mudra is known as a purifying one. It’s believed to cleanse the blood, while helping to rid the body of toxic waste. If you suffer from constipation, flatulence, or have a difficult time sweating, this mudra’s for you.
Here’s how you practice apana mudra:
- Find a comfortable, meditative seat and take a couple deep breaths to get grounded.
- Rest your hands gently on the knees and press the middle and ring fingers to your thumb.
- Leave the pointer and pinky fingers outstretched. This is the position both right and left hands will take.
- Breathe deeply as you close your eyes and sit peacefully in apana mudra.
It’s said that sitting in apana mudra for thirty minutes is optimal to reap the benefits. But, I say—start slow. You’ll work your way up with time.
I hope these mudras keep your gut healthy and happy, and free of discomfort. Yoga is a healing art that’s truly profound, and mudras are an overlooked aspect that I encourage you to bring forth into your sadhana.
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